Carers' Strategy launch

Carers’ Voice at Centre of New Strategy for Reading

  • Carers’ Strategy establishes priorities in Reading
  • Partners in health, voluntary sector and the council working together for carers
  • Action plan created

A new Carers’ Strategy for Reading which aims to provide a fully coordinated response to carers for the first time, has been approved by the Council.

There are around 11,000 identified carers in Reading and the new strategy aims to raise awareness of the issues carers face, improve identification and support, and promote and improve health and wellbeing.

Over the past year, carers of all ages have shared their experiences, wants, and needs with the Council, healthcare providers, and voluntary sector organisations. A new Reading Carers' Steering Group was created to help shape and fine-tune the new strategy and three-year action plan.

It provides a common approach to how organisations work with carers and also aims to educate people on what it means to be a carer.

The joint strategy was endorsed at a meeting of the Council’s Adult Social care and Education Committee last night (Wed) Agenda for Adult Social Care, Children's Services and Education Committee on Wednesday, 12th June, 2024, 6.30 pm - Reading Borough Council.

One carer, whose contributions helped shape the new strategy, said:

Will a strategy help me...? Unless there is a joined-up, co-produced strategy and action plan… organisations, or the people working in them, will never understand the needs of a carer.

“If you really want to understand, see, and hear carers - get together and let this strategy just be the start of building Reading into a great place for carers to live, and thrive. All the people we care for will benefit too.”

Melissa Wise, Executive Direction for the Directorate of Communities and Adult Social Care, said: “Reading’s carers are truly amazing people whose lives are fundamentally affected on every level because they are helping someone keep safe and well in their own homes.

“This strategy is the first time there has been a single approach across Reading, created by the people it affects the most – carers.

“Carers have been extremely generous with their time, telling us about their experiences and working with the right partners to try and get the system to work for them now and others in the future. We thank them for the valuable time they have given us to help shape Reading’s new strategy.”

The Carers Partnership, which represents Reading Mencap, Age UK Reading, Age UK Berkshire and Communicare, said: “Carers themselves have been at the heart of this strategy which means it is about them and for them.

“We want carers to feel reassured there is one approach in Reading ensuring that support and help is joined up across health, social care and the voluntary sector.”

“It is really important that informal carers come forward, are recognised and supported-this strategy seeks to make this happen.”

The strategy has identified the following priorities:

  • Identifying carers and promoting carers’ rights
  • Supporting and recognising carers in Reading
  • Maximising the voice of carers
  • Ensuring culturally competent support is available, including breaks and crisis support
  • Supporting carers with employment and learning.

How the action plan is implemented will now be monitored over the next three years by the Health and Wellbeing Board.

A carer is someone of any age who helps another person, whether a family member or not, to keep safe and well. The resident would not be able to live without the person, or carer, helping, or caring, for them. Their support looks very different from one situation to another and can be getting someone groceries and medication to personal care.

Even if a carer has a family relationship with the person they are caring for, they are still a carer. Anyone can become a carer through another’s illness, accident or natural decline in health, and the impact can have physical, financial, and emotional consequences.

If you think you may be a carer and want to see what support is available, visit Reading Services Guide Reading Directory | I look after someone (unpaid carer) for more.

The strategy has also been devised with Royal Berkshire Foundation Trust, Berkshire Healthcare Foundation Trust, Healthwatch, Compass Recovery College, Brighter Futures for Children, Berkshire West, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Integrated Care Board, Younger People with Dementia.